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Quotes - February 2017

Writing

Quotes - February 2017

Alexei Muravsky

“A principle essential to Christianity, a person is eternally different from a thing; so that the idea of a human being, necessarily excludes the idea of property in that being.”

- Coleridge via Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom


“Understandably distraught at the thought of their kinsman suffering such a death, de Horn’s noble family pleaded with the regent for leniency. As a distant relation of the royal family, they claimed, he should be spared, or at least executed in a more fitting way. Unusually, the regent remained resolute and, according to several accounts, replied, with the words of Corneille, “Le crime fait la honte, et non pas l’échafaud” – “It is the crime that is the dishonour, not the scaffold.” There was no reprieve.”

- Janet Gleeson, Millionaire: The Philanderer, Gambler, and Duelist Who Invented Modern Finance


“If I wanted any further proof of the strictly philosophical nature of the conduct of these young gentlemen in their very delicate predicament, I should at once find it in the fact (also recorded in a foregoing part of this narrative), of their quitting the pursuit, when the general attention was fixed upon Oliver; and making immediately for their home by the shortest possible cut. Although I do not mean to assert that it is usually the practice of renowned and learned sages, to shorten the road to any great conclusion (their course indeed being rather to lengthen the distance, by various circumlocutions and discursive staggerings, like unto those in which drunken men under the pressure of a too mighty flow of ideas, are prone to indulge); still, I do mean to say, and do say distinctly, that it is the invariable practice of many mighty philosophers, in carrying out their theories, to evince great wisdom and foresight in providing against every possible contingency which can be supposed at all likely to affect themselves. Thus, to do a great right, you may do a little wrong: and you may take any means which the end to be attained will justify; the amount of the right, or the amount of the wrong, or indeed the distinction between the two, being left entirely to the philosopher concerned, to be settled and determined by his clear, comprehensive, and impartial view of his own particular case.”

- Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist


“Psychology, as I understand it, means knowledge of the soul. Yet, how shall we speak about the souls of others, when we do not even know our own? Is there a single one of us who can with certainty know how he will react to a given event? Nevertheless, as leaders we must have some knowledge of the souls of our soldiers; because the soldier, the living man, is the instrument with which we have to work in war. The great commanders of all times had a real knowledge of the souls of their soldiers. Let us use a more simple phrase and call this knowledge of the soul, “knowledge of men.” Knowledge of men in all wars has proved an important factor to the leader. It is probable that this will be still more true in future wars. Prior to the World War, all armies fought in comparatively close order. The psychological reaction of the individual soldier was not so decisive since the fighting was done, not by the individual, but by the mass, and the mass was held together by drill and discipline. Moreover, the psychological impressions of battle were simpler. Rifle and canon ruled the battlefield, and the enemy could be seen. In modern war, the impressions are much more powerful. Usually we fight against an enemy we cannot see. The machine rules the battlefield. We no longer fight in great masses, but in small groups, often as individuals. Therefore, the psychological reaction of the individual has become increasingly important. As commanders we must know the probable reaction of the individual and the means by which we can influence this reaction.”

- Captain Adolf Von Schell, Battle Leadership


“As leader of a small unit in 1914-1918, Rommel proved himself to be an aggressive and versatile commander. He had a highly developed capacity for utilizing terrain. His men were trained to take cover when possible in movement and to dig in whenever they stopped. Rommel was tireless in reconnaissance and attributed many of his successes to the fact that he possessed better information about the enemy than they did about him. Information was shared with junior officers, noncoms, and even private soldiers. Into every battle plan and maneuver Rommel tried to introduce some element of deception and surprise. He sought out the weakest element in the enemy position and worked out a plan of attack to exploit that weakness and confuse the enemy as to his real intentions. He took pains to insure proper fire plans and used his machine guns and hand grenades in 1916-18 with the same skill that he used his 88s in 1941-42. Rommel was not afraid of changing plans or disobeying an order if he had better local information than his superior officer. He was also good a judging the moment when the cracking enemy should be attacked with every man at his disposal. If necessary he would order his men into the zone of a German barrage in order to give the enemy no rest in retreat. He bluffed Italians and lied to Romanians in order to get them to surrender in 1917-18, just as he lied to his own troops in November 1941 (saying the Moscow had fallen) in order to get them to make a supreme effort against General Ritchie’s offensive.”

- Major H. A. De Weerd, Foreword to the U. S. Edition of Infantry Attacks by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel


“PCs tend to be cheaper, the result of fierce competition in a marketplace with many suppliers. A wider range of hardware add-ons, more software, and more expertise are all readily available. This is an example of what economists call a network effect: the more other people use something, the more useful it will be for you, roughly in proportion to many others there are.”

- Brian W. Kernighan, Understanding the Digital World: What You Need to Know about Computers, the Internet, Privacy, and Security


“Language in general is important not only because it distinguishes human beings from all other animals on the earth but because, directly or indirectly, it makes possible the elaborate organization of civilized society… and language in general is interesting because, although everyone knows and uses a specific language, few people understand what they know. Becoming self-consciously aware of what is known unselfconsciously carries a special brand of excitement.”

- David W. Carroll, Psychology of Language 5th Edition


“The most effective strategy to get adolescents to avoid smoking was not offering teens medical information or trying to frighten them with images of graveyards, two strategies that did nothing to reduce teens’ taking up smoking or continuing to smoke. The strategy that worked was to inform them about how the adults who owned the cigarette companies were brainwashing them to smoke so that they could get their money.”

- Daniel J. Siegel, Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain


“The sexual behaviour of males and females may differ because of differences in parental investment that affect the rate at which individuals can produce offspring. The sex that can potentially leave more descendants gains from high levels of sexual activity, whereas the other sex does not. An inequality in the number of receptive individuals of the two sexes leads to competition for mates within one sex, while the opposite sex can afford to be choosy.”

- John Alcock, Animal Behavior 10th Edition


“For times when you feel pain: See that it doesn’t disgrace you, or degrade your intelligence – doesn’t keep it from acting rationally or unselfishly. And in most cases what Epicurus said should help: that pain is neither unbearable nor unending, as long as you keep in mind its limits and don't magnify them in your imagination. And keep in mind too that pain often comes in disguise – as drowsiness, fever, loss of appetite… When you’re bothered by things like that, remind yourself: “I’m giving in to pain.””

- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


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